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New SPERI co-directors announced

A message from Professor Colin Hay

Dear colleagues and friends of SPERI,

I am really delighted to be able to announce some fantastic news about SPERI’s leadership.

Genevieve LeBaron and Adam Leaver have both been offered, and have both accepted, to join me as co-directors of SPERI, with immediate effect. You will find a short biopic of each below.

Given that both Genevieve and Adam have substantial on-going commitments, the months until September will be something of a transitional period. But during that time lots will be happening. We will be advertising a number of post-doctoral research fellowships and rejuvenating SPERI’s web presence, amongst other things.

This is a very important moment in SPERI’s development. I am exceptionally proud of what we have managed to achieve collectively in the six years since we were established, and now thoroughly confident that SPERI will grow from strength to strength in the years ahead. I really look forward to working with Adam and Genevieve in the months and years to come and would just like to thank them for the confidence they have shown already in SPERI in agreeing to take on such important roles in our collective project.

I would like to thank Tony Payne, without whom – of course – none of this would be possible. It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with Tony as co-director since SPERI’s founding. I would also like to take the chance to thank Craig Berry, our current Deputy Director, for his exceptional contribution to SPERI. Craig will be leaving us in May to take up a new post as Reader in Political Economy at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has been a pleasure and privilege to work with and will be greatly missed.

With all best wishes and with thanks for your continued support for and engagement with SPERI,

Colin Hay
Co-Director of SPERI

Adam Leaver

Adam Leaver joined the Sheffield University Management School in October 2017 as Professor of Accounting and Society. He is an ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow. Prior to arriving in Sheffield, Adam was Professor in Financialization and Management at the University of Manchester, and researcher at the Centre for Research In Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC).

His work is interdisciplinary, working at the intersection of critical accounting, political economy and management. He has published multiple co-authored books and articles on financialization and financial crisis and has a track record of publishing impactful public interest reports on financial sector reform.

Adam’s current research interests include: i) using social network analysis methods to map the social relationships that underlie certain complex securities markets; ii) developing a relational theory of the firm to understand the impact of financialization in the corporate sphere; iii) exploring the inter-temporal transfers and tensions that arise as a consequence of financialization; and iv) theorising the sociology of metric gaming in organisations.

Genevieve LeBaron

Genevieve LeBaron is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. She is also Co-Chair of the Yale University Modern Day Slavery Working Group and an Editor of Review of International Political Economy.

Her research focuses on the political economy of the global labour market, including current research projects on the governance of transnational supply chains, the politics and effectiveness of corporate social responsibility, and the business models of forced labour.

In 2017, she was ranked the #1 academic (and #38 overall) on the global Top 100 Human Trafficking & Slavery Influence Leaders List, alongside leaders from the UK and US governments, Apple, Ford and the New York Times. In 2015, she was awarded the Rising Star Engagement Award from the British Academy in recognition of her contributions to research and policy-making on forced labour.

Genevieve currently holds grants from the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy and UK Department for International Development. Her research has also attracted funding from the Ford Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, amongst other funders.

Genevieve is co-founder of openDemocracy.net’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. She has written for leading newspapers including The Guardian and Salon.com, and her research on forced labour has been profiled in Fortune Magazine, Forbes, and The Guardian, and has been cited widely in policy initiatives. She is a columnist for the United Nations’ knowledge platform Delta 8.7.

Prior to joining Sheffield, Genevieve was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. She has also been a visiting scholar at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, the University of California, Berkeley, Osgoode Hall Law School, and Sciences Po. In 2015-2016, she was Yale University’s Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Fellow.

17 April 2018 by
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Raising the Bar pamphlet featuring SPERI’s Craig Berry launched in parliament

On Monday night SPERI’s Craig Berry spoke at the launch of Raising the Bar: How Household Incomes Can Grow the Way They Used To, a new pamphlet published by the Fabian Society, in the Houses of Parliament.

The pamphlet, available in full here, features Craig alongside Chi Onwurah MP (shadow industrial strategy minister), Anneliese Dodds MP (shadow Treasury minister), Rachel Reeves MP (chair of the energy, business and industrial strategy committee, Torsten Bell (director of the Resolution Foundation), Geoff Tily (senior economist at the TUC), John Mills (founder and chair of JML), Dustin Benton (director of the Green Alliance) and Özlem Onaran (director of Greenwich PERC).

Craig’s essay has also been published, in two parts, by SPERI Comment as ‘From capitalism grounded to grounded capitalism‘. As previously reported, Craig will be leaving SPERI to join the Manchester Metropolitan University business school next month.

 

18 April 2018 by
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OECD global conference on inclusive growth takes place in Parliament

Earlier this month the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Inclusive Growth hosted the OECD’s first ever global parliamentary conference on inclusive growth in the Houses of Parliament. SPERI is the research partner for the APPG. Tom Hunt, SPERI’s Policy Research Officer, led the organisation of the two-day conference.

Parliamentarians from 26 countries took part in the conference to debate new responses to growing global inequality. Along with the Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurria, and Chief of Staff, Gabriela Ramos, other speakers at the conference included Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton; Sir Mike Rake, former Chairman of the CBI; Sue Garrard, executive vice-president of Unilever; Alison Tate, Director of Economic and Social Policy at the ITUC; the Right Reverend David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham; representatives from NESTA and the Cabinet Office – and the actor Michael Sheen, who has founded a new campaign to tackle high cost credit.

The parliamentarians discussed policies that can reconnect wealth creation with tackling inequalities and addressing social justice goals, how markets can empower citizens and reduce poverty and the role of parliamentarians in making these changes happen.

See all of the photos from the OECD conference here and download the presentations and speeches from the conference here. The APPG will hold follow-up events later in the year.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth is a cross-party group of parliamentarians that seeks to develop solutions for a more inclusive and more equal economy. The group is backed by a range of influential individuals and organisations across politics, business, trade unions, finance, churches and faith groups and civil society, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the City of London Corporation and Oxfam. Tom Hunt leads SPERI’s work with the APPG. For further information about the partnership contact Tom and sign up to receive news about the APPG at www.inclusivegrowth.co.uk

17 April 2018 by
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The rationale for local authority pension fund investment decisions | New SPERI report

A new report published today by SPERI assesses the rationale behind the strategic asset allocation of the UK’s largest local authority pension funds since the 2007/2008 financial crisis.

The analysis in this new SPERI British Political Economy Brief by Craig Berry and Adam Barber builds directly upon that of our previous Brief, Local Authority Pension Fund Investment Since the Financial Crisis, which charted changes in the investment patterns of pension funds between 2005 and 2016.

This Brief explores the basis of these changes, such as the move away from equity investment, and the partial move towards ‘alternative’ investments such as infrastructure. It also explores local authority pension fund (LAPF) attitudes towards further ‘pooling’; that is, the agenda, first developed by the Cameron government, to merge LAPFs into a small number of ‘mega-funds’

The full publication can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI aims to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.

13 April 2018 by
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Hannah Lambie-Mumford appointed to new Food Standards Agency expert committee

Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, Research Fellow at SPERI, has been appointed as an expert member of the Food Standard Agency’s new independent Advisory Committee for Social Science.

The Advisory Committee for Social Science (ACSS) will be an independent, expert committee of the Food Standard Agency (FSA), providing strategic advice, including how the FSA can bring together different types of evidence, approaches and information on a multidisciplinary level to address and evaluate strategic problems. Recruitment for the new ACSS was carried out through open competition and Hannah has been appointed for an initial term of three years.

Hannah has undertaken research on food charity and food insecurity for funders including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Find out more about her research here. In 2013-14 she was lead author of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) funded ‘review of food aid’. In June 2014 Hannah was awarded first prize for Outstanding Early Career Impact at the ESRC’s Celebrating Impact awards. Hannah sits on Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) policy advisory committee. Her book Hungry Britain: The rise of food charity was published in 2017.

6 April 2018 by
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Professor Mick Moran (1946-2018)

We were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected death earlier this week of Professor Mick Moran.  Mick was an active member of SPERI’s International Advisory Board.  He wrote blogs for SPERI Comment, spoke at our meetings, workshops and conferences, acted as referee for our book manuscripts and gave unstinting support to SPERI.

Michael MoranMick was a distinguished authority on British government and politics, public policy and political economy.  After a period at Manchester Polytechnic in the 1970s, he moved to the University of Manchester in 1979, was promoted to Professor in 1990 and stayed there all of the rest of his working life.  Even after ‘retirement’ he continued working with an interdisciplinary group of friends and colleagues attached to CRESC in the Manchester Business School and contributed to their series of important analyses of the ‘Great British Financial Crisis’.

Mick wrote many important books during the course of his career.  These included Governing the Health Care State (1999), The British Regulatory State (2003), Business, Politics and Society (2009) and Politics and Governance in the United Kingdom (2015, 3rd ed.).  In 2017 he also published a wonderful overview of modern British politics, entitled tellingly The End of British Politics?

However, to everyone who knew him and worked with him, Mick was so much more than just a renowned and eminent professor.  He was a constant and readily available source of advice, good and fair judgement, and wisdom.  He gave his time unselfishly to colleagues, young and old, and was the very best that good citizenship in universities can offer.

The most sincere condolences from everyone at SPERI go to Mick’s wife, Winifred; his two sons, Liam and Joe; and his two grandchildren, Tom and Charlie.

6 April 2018 by
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Craig Berry wins prestigious British Academy rising star award

SPERI is delighted to announce that our deputy director Craig Berry has won a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award.

These awards are made to distinguished early career academics to enable engagement in career development through interdisciplinary projects.

Craig’s award builds upon his research on UK industrial strategy, and work on the Industrial Strategy Commission (which was nominated last week for a Guardian University Award). It will fund a project titled Industrial strategy and the transformation of British economic statecraft.

We extend our gratitude to all of those who supported Craig’s nomination and the proposed project, most notably Professor Nick Pearce at the University of Bath, Professor Matthew Watson at the University of Warwick, and SPERI’s Professor Andrew Gamble (who will act as a mentor for the project).

We are rather less delighted to report, however, that Craig will be leaving SPERI in May, to take up a new post as Reader in Political Economy at Manchester Metropolitan University. The project funded by this award will therefore be undertaken by Craig’s new home, Future Economies, in partnership with SPERI and the British Academy.

26 March 2018 by
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Child food insecurity in the UK- three new SPERI Briefs published today

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute has today published a new three-part series of British Political Economy Briefs on child food insecurity in the UK. Together, the briefs, co-ordinated by SPERI Research Fellow Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford highlight the critical issue of children in the UK not having enough food to eat.

SPERI Brief 31 Children’s experiences of food and poverty: the rise and implications of charitable breakfast clubs and holiday hunger projects in the UK is by Hannah Lambie-Mumford and Lily Sims.

In the brief Hannah Lambie-Mumford and Lily Sims, Research Assistant at SPERI, draw attention to the rise of child feeding initiatives in light of rising food bank use among children and statistics on the number of children living in severely food insecure households in the UK. These initiatives include the provision of breakfast at breakfast clubs and holiday hunger initiatives, which provide lunch to children outside of term time in an attempt to make up for the lack of Free School Meals during holidays. Calls for the expansion of these programmes have been made, but largely in the absence of a critical review of the effectiveness of these types of programmes for alleviating child food insecurity.

The brief presents new findings from a scoping study of policy documents, academic literature, and websites of major child feeding providers. It highlights a shift in the positioning of Breakfast Clubs from a tool to promote education attainment and social inclusion to meeting the food needs of poor and hungry children. Evidence on the effectiveness of these programmes meeting their aims is patchy, limited and mixed. Breakfast club provision is operationally diverse, and holiday hunger provision is randomly provided on some days/weeks and only for a few hours when offered. Some studies on impacts of breakfast clubs on education, health, and social inclusion show positive effects, while some show no evidence of impact, and no studies have used direct measures of child food security to assess programme impacts on experiences of child hunger. Limited accessibility, unreliability, unaccountability and social unacceptability of child feeding programmes may ultimately limit their ability to address child food insecurity.

SPERI Brief 32 Family hunger in times of austerity: families using food banks across Britain is by Rachel Loopstra (Department of Nutritional Sciences, King’s College London) Hannah Lambie-Mumford and Ruth Patrick (School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool)

The authors analyse data from a survey of 598 households using Trussell Trust food banks across Britain. They examine how prevalent families with children are among households using food banks and identify characteristics that may make families with children vulnerable to food insecurity and the need to use food banks. Families with dependent children were over-represented in food banks, making up about 70 per cent of food bank families, but only 42 per cent of families in the general population. Data in the brief shows how it is lone parent families and larger families who are more likely to be using food banks. Among all households using food banks, it was households with children who were more likely to be in work compared to households without children.

Families receiving help from food banks had extremely low incomes and over 80 per cent of households with children were classed as severely food insecure. The authors highlight how the severity of food insecurity observed is a serious cause for concern for both health and social reasons.

SPERI Brief 33 Families and Food in Hard Times: rising food poverty and the importance of children’s experiences is by a research team at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, led by Rebecca O’Connell.

O’Connell shares research from a mixed-methods study of food poverty and food practices of low-income families in the UK, drawing from interviews with 45 families with children aged 11 to 15 years old and secondary analyses of the UK’s Living Costs and Food survey over 2005 to 2013. In 2013, over half of households with children were spending less on food than the basic amount needed for a nutritious and socially acceptable diet that allows for social participation. Lone parent families with two or three children and couples with four children were the most likely to be spending less than what is needed on food. In general, for all family types, over 2005 to 2013, the proportion of families spending less than what is needed has been rising.

From qualitative interviews with 45 low-income families, O’Connell reports that just under half of parents reported skipping meals or eating less than they felt they should so that others could eat. But even though parents strove to protect their children from hunger, children from some of these families described their own experiences of hunger and how they would give up their own food intake to protect younger siblings or share with their parents. Despite experiencing food insecurity, only eight of the families had used a food bank in the past year. Though grateful for the help, food banks were described as difficult to access, not providing culturally appropriate food, and not providing enough food. Families also described the inability to participate in social occasions involving food and eating.

Dr Rachel Loopstra, Lecturer in Nutrition, King’s College London:

“Together, these three new SPERI briefs point to the current inadequacy of social policies to ensure that children and their families always have enough food to eat in the UK and that they can do so in socially acceptable ways. Households with children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity in the UK, and these briefs highlight how it is single parents and families with a larger number of children that have very high levels of risk. These findings are concerning given that entitlements for lone parent families and larger families are going to reduce in years to come.

“As Lambie-Mumford and Sims highlight, whilst policymakers and campaigners have sought other ways to ensure that children experiencing food insecurity receive food, there is little evidence that child feeding initiatives address household food insecurity. O’Connell highlights that whilst school food can play a vital role in reducing, if not eliminating nutritional and social inequalities, Free School Meals in Secondary Schools can be insufficient to compensate for a lack of food at home and also shame children leading to social stigma and fragmentation. Together, our work suggests food insecurity amongst households with children could be addressed by ensuring that families always have sufficient amounts of income to purchase enough food to meet their family’s food needs. In contrast, policy changes being rolled out since 2017 to child tax credits and the benefit freeze may mean that families with children may experience increasing food insecurity and be forced to seek more help from food banks.”

23 March 2018 by
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SPERI’s Industrial Strategy Commission nominated for major award

We are delighted to report that the Industrial Strategy Commission, featuring SPERI’s deputy director Dr Craig Berry and associate fellow Professor Richard Jones, has been nominated for a prestigious Guardian University Award.

SPERI established the Industrial Strategy Commission in partnership with policy@manchester (University of Manchester) in early 2017. Craig and Richard were joined by Professor Diane Coyle and Professor Andrew Westwood, and independent chair Dame Kate Barker. The Commission’s final report, which helped to shape the UK government’s industrial strategy white paper, is available at: http://industrialstrategycommission.org.uk/.

The Guardian University Awards honour and promote excellence in higher education, across a diverse range of categories covering, among other things, the student experience, human resource management, and engagement with business and the public. The Commission has been nominated in Social and Community Impact category, with the winners set to be announced next month. For more information, visit: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/mar/22/the-judges-decision-finalists-for-the-guardian-university-awards-2018.

The Commission’s work benefited from outstanding support from SPERI’s Tom Hunt (Secretariat) and policy@manchester’s Dr Marianne Sensier (Research Officer). The Commission is grateful also to Hannah Postles in the University of Sheffield’s media team, and colleagues at the University of Manchester, notably Alex Waddington and Alexis Darby.

22 March 2018 by
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Crisis in the Eurozone Periphery | New book published in SPERI Palgrave series

We are delighted to announce the publication of a further volume in the SPERI series ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research and Policy’ published by Palgrave Macmillan

Crisis in the Eurozone Periphery: The Political Economies of Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal, edited by Owen Parker and Dimitris Tsarouhas, investigates the causes and consequences of crisis in four countries of the Eurozone periphery – Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

The contributions to this volume are provided from country-specific experts, and are organised into two themed subsections: the first analyses the economic dynamics at play in relation to each state, whilst the second considers their respective political situations. The work debates what made these states particularly susceptible to crisis, the response to the crisis and its resultant effects, as well as the manifestation of resistance to austerity. In doing so, Parker and Tsarouhas consider the implications of continued fragilities in the Eurozone both for these countries and for European integration more generally.

Owen Parker is co-leader of SPERI’s research programme on ‘European Capitalism and the Future of the European Union’ and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics. He has written widely on International Relations and European politics, is co-author of the prominent textbook Politics in the European Union, and has previously worked for the European Commission.

Dimitris Tsarouhas is Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, Turkey and a Scientific Council Member of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) in Brussels. A former Jean Monnet Chair in European Politics, Tsarouhas has published extensively on European politics, public policy, and Greek-Turkish relations.

The book can be bought in hard copy or as an e-book here

2 March 2018 by
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New vacancy: Inclusive Growth Research Associate at SPERI

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a new Research Associate to join SPERI and work on our programme of research on inclusive growth.

Inclusive Growth Research Associate

SPERI’s research programme on inclusive growth aims to consider the multilevel dimensions of the inclusive growth agenda. Many so-called ‘left behind’ regions in advanced economies share similar economic and social characteristics and in recent years these shared ‘geographies of discontent’ have significantly contributed to political shocks which have had ramifications nationally and internationally. There is a significant opportunity for SPERI to help to develop a new research agenda that explores the links between the supra-national, national and sub-national effects of non-inclusive growth. Moreover, much of the academic and public policy discussion of inclusive growth has so far come from a social policy perspective.

We are seeking a new Research Associate with doctoral experience (or equivalent experience) of working on these kinds of issues. They will assist SPERI to establish a new political economy-focused research agenda on inclusive growth that better reflects the nature of the challenge at hand if growth in the UK and around the world is to be rendered more inclusive. The proposed research would also link to SPERI’s ongoing research focus on industrial strategy, the relationship between central and local policymakers and the devolution of economic policymaking powers.

The Research Associate will work closely with the Director and Deputy Director of SPERI and the existing SPERI team, to collaboratively design a research programme and will be expected to research and write academic papers, but also policy briefings, viewpoint pieces and blogs.

This is a full-time fixed-term post for 8 months at Grade 7 (£30,688 – £38,833 per annum)

Closing date for applications: 1st March 2018

For informal enquiries about this job, contact: Craig Berry, SPERI’s Deputy Director on craig.berry@sheffield.ac.uk

Applications are made through the University of Sheffield’s online jobs portal

19 February 2018 by
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New SPERI Paper: Revisiting the developmental state

We are pleased to publish a new SPERI paper edited by Matt Bishop and Tony Payne on ‘Revisiting the developmental state’.

Originally published as a blog series late last year, the paper brings together a number of eminent experts on the subject: Kunal Sen, Shaun Breslin, Ziya Öniş, Valbona Muzaka, David Booth, Courtney Lindsay and Henry Wai-chung Yeung.

The notion of a ‘developmental state’ is a key concept in the political economy of development. It refers, broadly speaking, to a type of state which intervenes purposefully to distort markets in the pursuit of economic upgrading and productive transformation. This is not anti-capitalist, but neither is it about free markets. It is rather about shaping markets to achieve developmental ends, something that typified the experience of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1970s. The simultaneous failure of neoliberal free market fundamentalism to deliver rising living standards in the West and the contrasting success of high levels of intervention in China, especially, have reignited interest in the concept.

Yet a range of unanswered questions persist, and the authors whose work is showcased in the new SPERI paper offer pithy, incisive accounts of key points of controversy and debate. These include: the relationship between the state and market; whether authoritarianism is a key characteristic of such states; the extent to which developmentalism is still plausible under contemporary forms of globalisation; the kinds of strategies that different interventionist states deploy; why some of these countries have been more successful than others; and, crucially, the dragon in the room that is China and its developmentalist implications for the global economy.

Matt Bishop is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Sheffield and Tony Payne is Professorial Fellow at SPERI. Together they co-lead SPERI’s research programme on ‘Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy’.

Download SPERI Paper No. 43: Revisiting the developmental state

7 February 2018 by
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New FEPS-SPERI policy brief: Turning ‘intergenerational fairness’ into progressive policy

A new FEPS-SPERI policy brief by Kate Alexander Shaw, ‘Turning ‘intergenerational fairness’ into progressive policy‘ is published today.

In the new brief Kate Alexander Shaw sets out a series of recommendations for how the ‘intergenerational fairness’ can be turned into progressive policies. The brief’s central argument is that progressives need to develop an analysis that connects a structural understanding of the problem with a set of policies that target the underlying causes of generational inequality, not just its most recent symptoms. This means getting to grips with the possibilities for redistribution between age groups, and the ways in which intergenerational inequalities relate to other kinds of inequality.

Drawing on analysis of the emerging politics of intergenerational fairness in five European nations: the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark and Romania, this brief makes recommendations about how progressives should approach the politics of intergenerational fairness, before highlighting six policy areas in which they might look for progressive solutions. The six areas are 1) Employment rights and labour market protections 2) Taxation of asset wealth, including residential property 3) Improving private rented housing 4) Electoral reform 5) Pension reform and 6 ) Environmental policy.

Download the new policy brief here

The brief is the second publication in our research project on the Political Economy of Young People in Europe, in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), which is investigating the challenges facing young people in Europe’s post-crisis economies, and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness.

The first publication ‘Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairness‘ is available to download here.

30 January 2018 by
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Reimagining tax through speculative design – new SPERI project

SPERI is embarking on a new collaborative project which will explore the role of communications between tax authorities and taxpayers in increasing ‘tax morale’. The project will be led by Dr Liam Stanley (SPERI) in collaboration with Dr Rebecca Bramall at the University of the Arts London (UAL).

Tax is the lifeblood of public life. It funds public services and contributes to the formation of citizen identities and solidarities. While public opinion continues to support the payment of taxes, this generally positive tax morale is threatened by an economic narrative which holds that tax is a burden. There is therefore vital work to be done to understand how key social actors and institutions can promote positive attitudes towards taxation and champion the role of tax in society.

A key element of the UK government’s approach to communicating with citizens about tax has been the introduction in 2014 of the ‘Annual Tax Summary’. Personalised statements explaining how the recipient’s tax contributed to public spending are now sent to millions of taxpayers in the UK each year. Research by Liam Stanley and Todd Hartman has demonstrated that although the scheme aims to improve transparency, the Annual Tax Summary may in fact decrease taxpayers’ tax morale – that is, their motivation and willingness to pay tax. This research was first published by SPERI in 2015 in a British Political Economy Brief on this subject.

Building on Stanley and Hartman’s research, this new project, funded by the University of Sheffield ESRC Impact Accelerator Account, will explore the role of communications between tax authorities and taxpayers in increasing tax morale. Using a methodology informed by speculative design, the project will generate a series of alternative tax summaries that posit different ways of valuing taxpayers and the contribution that tax makes to society.

A workshop in Spring 2018 will bring together researchers, policymakers, campaigners and creative communications experts to explore how tax authorities can communicate differently with taxpayers. Drawing on the workshop’s outcomes, information designers will create a series of alternative tax statements. The results will be made publicly available online, and will be exhibited in September 2018 as part of the London Design Festival.

25 January 2018 by
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Three new SPERI-IPPR literature reviews published

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have today published its final series of literature reviews, compiled to inform IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice.

The reviews have been authored by SPERI research assistant Sean McDaniel and deputy director Craig Berry. The three published today focus on:

As well as reviewing the key academic and non-academic literatures, in each review McDaniel and Berry also use the evidence assembled to outline what a more progressive policy agenda in each of these areas could look like.

The reviews are available to download at: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/publications/reports/

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is a landmark initiative to rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain. Launched in November 2016, the Commission brings together leading figures from across society – from business and trade unions, civil society organisations and academia – to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and make practical recommendations for reform.

Three reviews – on work, labour markets and welfare, the company and alternative forms of ownership and digital platforms and competition policy – were published in November 2017 and are available here.

The Commission is undertaking a wide-ranging programme of research and policy consultation on issues including industrial strategy, macroeconomic policy, taxation, work and labour markets, wealth and ownership, sub-national economic policy and technological change. Through a major programme of communications, events and stakeholder engagement it aims to contribute to both public debate and public policy on the economy.

The Commission’s Interim Report, Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy, was published in September 2017. Its Final Report will be published in autumn 2018. IPPR commissioned SPERI to conduct a series of literature reviews to inform the Final Report.

 

22 January 2018 by
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Baby Boomers versus Millennials | New paper on the politics of intergenerational fairness

A new paper by Kate Alexander Shaw, published today, ‘Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairnessanalyses the current debate in the UK around intergenerational fairness.

The paper is part of our research project on the Political Economy of Young People in Europe, in collaboration with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), which is investigating the challenges facing young people in Europe’s post-crisis economies, and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness.

The paper argues that the intergenerational fairness debate has been almost entirely a post-crisis phenomenon in the UK, rising quickly up the agenda since 2010. The headline coherence of “intergenerational fairness” as a concept belies some important disagreements about its meaning and policy implications. Some strands of the debate are broadly progressive; others are more connected to the politics of fiscal conservatism. Kate’s paper looks at how the concept cuts across right-left politics in the UK and considers how representations of intergenerational fairness can be either solidaristic or conflictual, and the choice between these two frames has important implications for policy. The debate around intergenerational fairness, accelerated by the recent upsurge in youth electoral turnout, also raises difficult questions about the relative priority that should be attached to age and class in Britain’s political economy.

Download the new paper

Baby Boomers versus Millennials: rhetorical conflicts and interest-construction in the new politics of intergenerational fairness

The last several years have seen an upswell of interest in the notion of intergenerational fairness, centred on concerns that today’s young people cannot hope to achieve the same prosperity as older generations. In the British case, we have seen the emergence of a new discourse in which prosperous, asset-rich ‘Baby Boomers’ are contrasted with debt-laden, precariously housed and insecurely employed ‘Millennials’. The post-crisis economic context, characterised by austerity and slow growth, has only sharpened concerns about the prospects of young people, while discourses that present the interests of different generations as being in conflict are making age-cohort a critical new political cleavage. Rhetoric is not simply descriptive but constitutive of this new politics, reconstructing perceived interests and so opening up new possibilities for action.

The paper maps the emergence of the intergenerational fairness agenda in the UK, and considers its political implications. On the one hand, the construction of a common identifier based on age could provide a spur to political mobilization by young people, and a framework for reexamining the proper allocation of social entitlements. On the other hand, the politics of intergenerational fairness has the potential to be divisive and zero-sum, undermining rather than underpinning attempts to renew the social compact between generations. Headline consistency in the language of intergenerational fairness may belie important divergences in actors’ understandings of its meaning and policy implications. The recent increase in youth engagement with electoral politics may in fact raise difficult questions about the extent to which generational inequalities should be afforded political priority over intra-generational cleavages such as class.

Read three new response pieces to the paper:
Responding to the needs of Millennials: framing intergenerational fairness within an intersectional understanding of solidarity By Mafalda Dâmaso, PhD Goldsmiths, University of London, cultural consultant and member of the FEPS Young Academics Network

The change in the perception of change: the key to overturn a dark present By João Albuquerque, President of the Young European Socialists

Long Term Youth Unemployment: Characteristics and Policy responses By Massimilano Mascherini Senior research manager in the Eurofund Social Policies unit

18 January 2018 by
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New SPERI research brief on Frankfurt, financial services and Brexit

When the UK leaves the European Single Market, financial firms domiciled in the City of London will lose their ‘passporting rights’. This means that many UK-based banks and other financial institutions will need to relocate a significant portion of their operations, capital and staff to alternative financial centres inside the EU. Frankfurt has consistently been identified as one of the potential beneficiaries of this process, alongside Dublin, Paris and Luxembourg.

A new SPERI policy briefing published today presents new findings that show how actors within Frankfurt have responded to the Brexit vote.

In November 2017 Dr Scott Lavery and Davide Schmid conducted extensive interviews with a broad range of elite stakeholders based within Frankfurt’s financial sector. They interviewed Frankfurt-based trade associations, international banks, regional banks, regulatory bodies, marketing agencies, international financial institutions and representatives of the Hesse region.

The new SPERI brief shows how influential political and financial organisations in Frankfurt are working together to promote the city to financial service firms. Key stakeholders in Frankfurt acknowledge that the City of London will remain Europe’s primary financial hub after Brexit –  but they expect between 5,000 – 10,000 jobs to move to Frankfurt over the next four years.

Frankfurt has ‘played to its strengths’ by focussing on the political and economic stability of Germany and the competence of its regulatory authorities. The brief outlines how Frankfurt has not taken the more ‘aggressive’ approach pursued by other rival EU financial centres, most notably Paris and Luxembourg.

Scott and Davide have written about their research findings in their new blog ‘Will Frankfurt become Europe’s leading financial centre after Brexit?’

Download the full report here.

16 January 2018 by
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New study identifies innovative approaches to tackle forced labour in global supply chains

A major new report published today proposes new policy interventions to tackle previously unaddressed root causes of exploitative work conditions.

Confronting Root Causes: Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains’, is published by researchers from Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, an organisation that studies labour exploitation, in partnership with SPERI. Dr Genevieve LeBaron, leader of SPERI’s Labour and Work in the Global Political Economy research programme, is the lead author of the report.

It presents new evidence based on empirical and high-level analysis of current global initiatives to tackle labour exploitation in global supply chains. New analysis has found that current global labour initiatives are failing to address the growing problem of forced labour in global supply chains.

Dr Genevieve LeBaron: “There is a disconnect between the root causes of severe labour exploitation and the solutions that government and industry are advocating. Most ‘solutions’ to forced labour in global supply chains fail to tackle underlying problems and practices that create a business demand for forced labour, like low prices, irresponsible sourcing practices, outsourcing, and the uneven distribution of value along supply chains.  Meaningful solutions to forced labour in global supply chains need to confront these root causes.’

Dr Neil Howard, a co-author of the report “Globalisation’s promise was to pull people out of poverty by integrating them into the world market and offering them decent work. It hasn’t delivered. Today, hundreds of millions of people are unemployed; more than 75% of the global workforce is on temporary or informal contracts; the ranks of the working poor are expanding daily; the provision of social and labour protection has been reduced; migrant rights are under threat; and exploitative as well as forced labour appear endemic in a number of industries.”

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Ensure that anti-slavery initiatives tackle the root causes of forced labour in global supply chains.
  • Give workers and workers’ organisations a central and meaningful role in the design and enforcement of supply chain governance initiatives, modelled after successful worker-driven social responsibility initiatives.
  • Expand the budget and remit of labour inspectorates, so that governments have capacity to enforce the laws on their books.
  • Ensure that government anti-slavery policies like the UK Modern Slavery Act is not undermined by policy in other areas, such as immigration policy or labour market regulation.

The new 12-part report provides policymakers, journalists, scholars and activists with a roadmap for understanding the political economy of forced labour in today’s ‘global value chain (GVC) world’. The report presents analysis of four ‘supply side’ dynamics that contribute to creating a global pool of workers vulnerable to exploitation: poverty, discrimination, absent labour protections and restrictive migration regimes. And on the ‘demand side’, the report analyses the concentration of corporate power, outsourcing, irresponsible sourcing practices and governance gaps.

Download the report here.

10 January 2018 by
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Young workers’ perspectives on the economy, crisis, the labour market and politics | New SPERI report published today

With its tenth anniversary approaching, the 2008 global financial crisis has had significant ramifications in the UK that are still being felt today. One of the groups that has been most affected are young people, in part because they will live with the aftermath of the crisis for longest, and in part because of the crisis’ specific impact on their socio-economic circumstances.

Young people also appear to be on the front line of structural change within the economy, evidenced by a stratification within the labour market between secure, high-skilled employment (in industries such as finance, business services and advanced manufacturing) and precarious, low-skilled employment (in industries such as retail and care). With growing flexibilization, the ‘gig economy’ and rapidly advancing automation, the world of work is changing, and as such a new generation of young workers will be subject to labour market conditions unlike those that past generations have experienced.

A new SPERI report by Craig Berry and Sean McDaniel presents new research on the perspectives of young people themselves on this transformation. Utilising focus group research, this new SPERI British Political Economy Brief considers whether young people are content to work within ‘the new normal’, and whether they are willing to challenge prevailing economic circumstances in order to refashion the labour market.

The research presented here is part of a larger study funded by Unions21 in conjunction with Slater and Gordon. The focus here is on attitudes to the economy, work and politics, but the larger project focuses also on attitudes to trade unionism and industrial relations. A final report for the project will be published in early 2018.

The full publication can be downloaded here.

8 January 2018 by
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Congratulations to Adam Barber

We are delighted to report that SPERI doctoral researcher, Adam Barber, passed his PhD viva on 1 December 2017.  His thesis was entitled: ‘Have banks in the UK learned lessons from the 2008 financial crisis?’

His analysis suggested that, following the crisis, different banks have taken different paths.  While some institutions have become more risk-averse and display signs of lesson-learning, others have shown little evidence of change.  Adam used notions of agency, path dependency and structural competitive pressures to explain these inter-bank variations of behaviour.

The examiners of the thesis were Professor Mick Moran, emeritus professor of government at the University of Manchester, as external and Professor Andrew Baker, SPERI and Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, as internal.

Adam has since been appointed to the position of Senior Research Associate at the new Future Economies Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University.  He takes up his position on 1 February 2018 and will hold the post for four years.

3 January 2018 by
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